Ice-Cream Decoder

Ice Cream Scoops

There are a number of label terms for light ice cream. See if they induce brain freeze.

Simple enough: A half-cup serving must contain no more than 3g total fat. Ice creams that don't meet that standard can still be called "reduced-fat" or "light" if they meet those definitions.

Not a nutrition claim but a process that often indicates less fat. Air is added during the churning process-a technique long used to reduce fat and calories-but new technologies reduce the size of fat globules and ice crystals, yielding a creamy consistency. Total fat tends to be in the 3g to 4g zone-somewhere between low-fat and light.

See More: Homemade Ice Cream Recipes

Contains 25% less total fat than a brand's original version. The more fat in the original version, the more in the reduced-fat version. We found a reduced-fat version with 6g total fat and 4g sat fat per half-cup. Another had 5g total fat and 3g sat fat.

How's this for confusing: Light ice creams may contain either 50% less total fat or 33% fewer calories than the brand's original version. For example: One brand's full-fat ice cream contains 180 calories and 9g fat, while the light version has 140 calories and 4.5g fat. Most manufacturers swap some whole milk or low-fat milk for cream to earn the term.

Technically, a fat-free ice milk (it's not an ice cream if it's less than 5% fat) can have up to 0.5g of fat in it-manufacturers can round down. For creamy texture, thickeners and stabilizers (like carrageenan and cellulose gum) are added.

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